Saturday, May 9, 2009

LA Cabal Craft Beer Festival

This weekend was the LA Cabal's first Craft Beer Festival. It was a pretty incredible turnout, those of us who were not fortunate enough to get advance tickets had a to wait in line for an hour. But luckily, it looked like everyone got in. Below are thoughts, photos, and beers from the fest. At the very end, I've listed everything that was on tap.

The Echoplex was packed, but it didn't take long to get a brew.

All the brewerys were California based and quite a few were San Diego based. Here are the beers I sampled:
Coronado - Islander IPA
Stone - Sublimely Self Righteous, Black IPA
Lagunitas - Old Gnarleywine
TAPS - Barleywine
Ballast Point - Big Eye IPA
Ballast Point - Yellow Tale Pale Ale
Pizza Port - Pig Dog Pale Ale
Hangar 24 - IPA

A lot of interesting beers on tap and a few new Breweries that I learned about. I can't say that I tried anything that blew my mind, but everything was quality made. My favorites were the ever-creative Stone's Black IPA, Lagunitas' Gnarleywine, TAPS's Barleywine, and Ballast Point's Big Eye IPA. There were also some rotating taps that I missed, but supposedly went quickly. Obviously, the Green Flash Westcoast IPA and Stone's Arrogant Bastard would have been among my favorites as well, however, with all the new beers to try, I decided to save those for another ocassion. I have 22s of the Black IPA and the Gnarleywine, so I'll be reviewing them soon. I've listed all the beers at the end of the blog.

Happy beer fest revellers.

There were a number of food vendors there with free chips, pizza, burritos, and other good grub. Among the ones I knew were, The Golden State, Masa, the LA Burrito Project, and Hot Knives. The guys above had some sweet candied nuts they were handing out, went great with the beer.

The beer goodness was more than this guy could handle.

People ate and drank outside by the taco truck, Taco Zone, if you ever catch these guys on Alvarado outside of Vons, try their Suadero.

The beer kept flowing, the good times kept coming.

A special shout out to these guys, Hot Knives, who do a blog on all sorts of good items, but are special in my heart for their love of beer and pairing it with homeade cheese.

As they, prepped the cheese, a serious crowd gathered around.

I wish I could tell what all these cheeses were, but it was loud and I was drunk...

...and the crowd gathering around the table was foaming at the mouth. And by far one of the most amazing things I've ever seen was when they put the cheese out for everyone to eat.

It was like a shark feeding frenzy! People wolfed down cheese and were climbing over each other to get their hands on some.

Luckily, I was able to knock out a few people and get my hands on some. Then I realized what all the fuss was about. Paired with beer or even on its own, this was some mighty fine cheese.

Here are the beers that were on tap, numbers at the end are alcohol percentage:
1. Stone - Arrogant Bastard, 7.2
2. Stone - Sublimely Self Righteous, Black IPA, 8.7
3. Blind Lady - Automatic #1, Belgian style single with spices, 5.6
4. Green Flash, West Coast IPA, 7
5. Green Flash, Trippel, 8.5
6. Craftsman - Scotch Isle Ale, 7
7. Craftsman - Edgar's Ale, 8.2
8. Hangar 24 - Orange Wheat
9. Hangar 24 - IPA, 7
10. Lagunitas - Olde GnarleyWine, Barleywine, 9.7
11. Coronado - Orange Ave. Ale, 5.8
12. Coronado - Islander IPA, 7
13. TAPS - Belgian White
14. TAPS - Barleywine, 9.8
15. Ballast Point - Yellow Tale Pale Ale 4.6
16. Ballast Point - Big Eye IPA, 6
17. Firestone Walker - Double Barrel Ale, 5
18. Firestone Walker - Rotating tap
19. Pizza Port (Carlsbad) - Warm Water Wheat, Bavarian-style Hefeweizen, 5.5
20. Pizza Port (San Clemente) - Pig Dog Pale Ale, 5.6
21. Uncommon Brewers - Siamese Twin, Belgian style Dubbel, 8.5
22. Uncommon Brewers - Golden State, Belgian style Golden, 6.4
23. Sierra Nevada - Summerfest, 5
24. Sierra Nevada - ESB, 5.9
25. Telegraph - White Ale, 4.5
26. Telegraph - Rhinoceros, Rye Barleywine, 10
27. The Bruery - Tradewinds Triple, 7.5
28. The Bruery - Cuvee Jeune, Young Lambic, 6

Deschutes Hop Henge

Pungent fresh hops and apples leap up at me as I dip my nose into this one. A real dark orange bordering on amber for this "monument to hops" from Deschutes. Labled as "experimental," this IPA is a mouthful of hops through and through. It goes without saying that they used a lot of hops in this, I have to guess principally cascade due to the subtle apple flavors and very dark undertones. The drinking experience starts like drinking an electric hops lemonade (I realize that sounds bizarre, but try it, you'll understand): light, hoppy, bright. As it moves back on your tongue the richer, darker flavored hops rush up to the roof of your mouth and kick like a mule. If that wasn't enough, after the brew has descended into that dark land we call the liver, the bitterest hops of all creep back up and slide underneath your tongue with enough bite to actually make your face squinch up. A clever invention, but unless the druids knew no moderation, this creation seems to be built on hop intensity alone; I'm not sure if that's enough for this brew to stand the tests of time.

Hop Henge: ***1/2

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Green Flash Hop Head Red

Tis the season for red ales. Greenflash has impressed me as of late, so I picked up a number of their brews on my latest trip to Beverage Warehouse. This brew pours a deep red with a light amount of head. Aroma is strong amarillo hops as is advertised on the outside of the bottle. The taste is bitter throughout, but definitely one that changes in complexity as you taste it. The first sip has a dark malt flavor with a slight hint of apples that lost in a moment like the dips of a rollercoaster. As the hops intensify they roll through any lingering malt and flatten into a wide blanket of bitterness that covers your mouth and leaves a long lasting aftertaste. I've come to expect Greenflash to do their work in the fairly bitter category, like most Craft brewers, they love the hops. And while this is rather well made red, the hops seem to overwhelm the rest of the flavor and can't decide between red and IPA.

Hop Head Red: ***